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How Instagram Harnesses the Awesome Power of Mobile, Social Media and Photos: 3 Success Stories

I have a friend who won’t stop taking photos of food whenever she eats out. It seems that no matter what restaurant (except for McDonald’s or KFC and I don’t think they qualify as restaurants) the experience seems to turn into a full photo shoot.

How Instagram Harnesses the Awesome Power of Mobile Social Networks and Photos

Every angle is explored and the correct lighting is required.

At this stage there isn’t mood music to accompany the visuals, but I am half expecting a string quartet to become involved at some stage.

The next step is for the agent to show up and a movie director.

Why is this Happening?

The convergence of technology has produced a device (smartphone) that can take the photo in high definition and publish it to Facebook and Twitter before the food is even cold. Five minutes later you can check  to see if any of your friends have left a comment, shared or “liked” it!

This visual self expression and sharing culture combines the power of three.

  1. People’s obsession with their iPhone (read smartphone)
  2. Engagement power of Facebook
  3. The love of photos that seems to have been reinforced with the easy availability of the camera in your pocket

The only challenge for marketers is how to harness that through a touch of creativity.

How to Take Advantage of this Obsession

Marketers have realised for a long time the power of images to motivate and engage people.  There are many business categories that can leverage social, mobile and photos to make their content contagious.

There is one very unassuming mobile app that emulates the simplicity of Twitter but is starting to make its presence felt that is playing with the power of “3”.

That “app” is Instagram.

Instagram is a free photo sharing application that you can download to your smartphone, that allows users to take photos, apply a filter, and share it on the service or a variety of other social networking services, including Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Tumblr, Flickr , and Posterous

3 Instagram Success Stories

Instagram’s success shows the power of simplicity coupled with the increasingly mobile and visual social networks.

Food can be made to look so inviting with a great photo (just ask my friend)

Food – Personal Brand

Lets start with a famous “chef” and personal brand called Jamie Oliver who has over 170,000 followers on Instagram and doesn’t miss the ongoing opportunities to market his personal brand, cooking shows and publications with visual online sharing.

Check out Jamie’s Instagram

Jamie Oliver Instagram

Beverages – Coffee

StarBucks as one of the largest brands based on follower count on Instagram with over 200,000 followers realises the engagement opportunities.

Alexandra Wheeler, VP of global marketing for the coffee giant says this about Instagram “Photography plays such an important role in how we visually share Starbucks offerings and experiences,..this will continue to be a great network to connect with our customers as it grows.

Starbucks Instagram


Fashion brands are a perfect fit for Instagram.  Burberry gives followers behind-the-scene glimpses at fashion shows and photo shoots.

Burberry Instagram

Instagram Ecosystem

There is a complete application and business ecosystem building around Instagram and John Jantsch at the Duct Tape marketing blog mentions the following 6 tools that enhance Instagram.

  1. iDarkroom – This isn’t really an Instagram related tool, but it’s a great tool to use to enhance your images before you upload them to Instagram
  2. Webstagram – This tool helps you search, sort, tag, follow and comment on photos shared by other users. One of the ways to make Instagram pay off is to build a following and part of that is done by finding and following relevant users and adding your comments to their images.
  3. Postagram – Postagram allows you to turn any Instagram image into a postcard with the push of a button. Then Postgram sends your postcard for less than dollar. Think about how you could send product images to customers or showcase a project you’re working.
  4. Printstagram – This tool takes your Instagram images and allows you to turn them into posters, mini prints, and mini books.
  5. StickyGram – This app takes your custom Instrgram shots and turns them into magnets. It’s like having your own little promotional products creator right in your phone, but potentially much cooler.
  6. Canvas Pop – If you want to take up a notch Canvas Pop will take your Instagram images and print them on canvas frames.

Find out more about how to get followers on Instagram to spread your brands message and content.

Jeffbullas's Blog


  • Fabio Lalli

    Hi Jeff! Have you forgotten Followgram 😉 ahi ahi ahi! We have realized for the first page for the concept of brand instagram. Look here for example http://followgram.me/epitti

  • I agree with you.Instagram have assist a lot of sectors in building the brand image and marketing the product.It helps to coney the exact message and help to increase the brand awareness as well.

  • Amazing, always have a personal account in Instagram and never knew how it would work for my company!

  • Thanks Kelly for the comment and great to hear from you. I think you could have a lot of fun with it while driving traffic. Look forward to hearing about the next phase! Yes, I think it is time to get a smart phone!

  • You always have the best blogs Jeff!  Love ’em!

  • Hi Jeff,

    I’m thrilled to see you highlighting Instagram as a tool for business. I’ve watched some solo businesses (designers and photographers) gain great exposure for their work there. Brands like Innocent drinks are using it to increase engagement with their audience. It’s also a great too for non-profits.

    It’s also a great way for brands to tap into how their customers feel about and interact with their brand in real time. That’s priceless insight.

    Starbucks can search #starbucks and see who their brand evangelists all over the world.

    There is so much untapped potential for brands and business there.

    • Thanks for the comment Bernadette. I have been playing with the visual elements of social media from Slideshare, Infographics to Pinterest and it has astounded me. The power of sharing images, cartoons and photos is awesome and I will continue to test and measure the results of increasing engagement and liquid content!

  • Thanks for your comment Severine. Yes the power of a “mobile image” on social networks cannot be underestimated and I will have to check him out.

  • I’m not sure I love a brand enough to follow them on Instagram…I would just assume I’d be fed marketing related photos all the time and I hate that. But I would definitely follow a brand ambassador who actually had interesting photos, and wouldn’t mind seeing a brand snuck in there every once in a while. The only celebrity I follow on Instagram is @JimmieJohnson:disqus  (NASCAR driver). If he does plug a product, it’s understated and the photo is good. 

    Long story short, my advice would be 1) Don’t post blatant marketing messages all the time (Social media 101) and 2) Have a presence on Instagram through a brand ambassador. 

    • Thanks Brittany for the comment. As you stated, the principles of social media apply to Pinterest. Make your content educational, informative or entertaining most of the time.

  • For a simple search and share utility, I prefer: http://hashgr.am/

    • Thanks for the tip. I will check it out 🙂

  • Social networking sites are the leading place to create wonderful business career, and by the used of mobile images, some business involving social media can now be easily monitored.

  • Great post Jeff. Thanks for sharing the info about these tools, now to check them out!

  • SEO

    Instagram can be consider now as the most popular apps in different mobile devices like iPad. This is the new apps that can turn your pictures into a very amazing looks.

  • Patrick Williams

    Jeff- I am an instagram Whore! I take pictures of anything and everything.. my food, my son, the outdoors, the indoors, at work, with friends.. Some of the smart companies are leveraging there instagram followers- offering discounts and give aways if you check in and Instagram a pic. I love it and I think it will continue to grow as a very viable social media platform that all companies should be using.